The development of a machine learning algorithm for early detection of viral hepatitis B infection in Nigerian patients

Busayo I. Ajuwon*, Alice Richardson, Katrina Roper, Meru Sheel, Rosemary Audu, Babatunde L. Salako, Matthew O. Bojuwoye, Ibraheem A. Katibi, Brett A. Lidbury

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)


Access to Hepatitis B Virus (HBV) testing for people in low-resource settings has long been challenging due to the gold standard, enzyme immunoassay, being prohibitively expensive, and requiring specialised skills and facilities that are not readily available, particularly in remote and isolated laboratories. Routine pathology data in tandem with cutting-edge machine learning shows promising diagnostic potential. In this study, recursive partitioning (“trees”) and Support Vector Machines (SVMs) were applied to interrogate patient dataset (n = 916) that comprised results for Hepatitis B Surface Antigen (HBsAg) and routine clinical chemistry and haematology blood tests. These algorithms were used to develop a predictive diagnostic model of HBV infection. Our SVM-based diagnostic model of infection (accuracy = 85.4%, sensitivity = 91%, specificity = 72.6%, precision = 88.2%, F1-score = 0.89, Area Under the Receiver Operating Curve, AUC = 0.90) proved to be highly accurate for discriminating HBsAg positive from negative patients, and thus rivals with immunoassay. Therefore, we propose a predictive model based on routine blood tests as a novel diagnostic for early detection of HBV infection. Early prediction of HBV infection via routine pathology markers and pattern recognition algorithms will offer decision-support to clinicians and enhance early diagnosis, which is critical for optimal clinical management and improved patient outcomes.

Original languageEnglish
Article number3244
JournalScientific Reports
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2023


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